In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a growing clamor for a global commitment to universal health coverage (UHC). You might have seen the recent special issue of the Lancet on “the struggle for UHC”. Inevitably, accompanying this clamor, there’s been a lot of wracking of brains on how to measure progress toward UHC. With the excitement of a new political agenda, there’s understandably a desire to carve out a new measurement agenda too. While not wanting dampen people’s enthusiasm for the UHC cause, I would like us to reflect whether on the measurement agenda we’re building enough on what’s been done before.
The World Bank is revising its Operational Guidelines for Textbooks and Reading Materials [pdf]. Commonly referred to as our 'textbook policy', this is a guidance document for our ‘clients’ and partners in ministries of education and finance, our own staff and (to a lesser extent) broader stakeholder communities interested and involved in the development, procurement, dissemination, and assessment of the use, of learning materials (especially within the context of World Bank-funded projects in the education sector).
The current policy dates from 2002. My first reaction when I heard that the World Bank would be revising its “textbook policy” was to the term itself. In 2012, surely we should be thinking beyond just 'textbooks', more broadly encompassing a wide variety of educational resources than the traditional conception of a printed book landing with a thud on the desk of a student? Despite regular proclamations from certain quarters about the impending ‘death of the printed book’, printed textbooks – especially in the developing countries where the World Bank is active -- aren’t going away any time soon. That said, there is no doubt that the landscape of and business climate for ‘educational publishers’ is changing radically in much of the world, and that this change is being fueled in large part by the increased distribution and adoption of a variety of disruptive technologies, which are increasingly to be found in schools and local communities, even in some of the poorest.
How might, or should, a new World Bank ‘textbook policy’ be relevant and useful in such a world going forward? How narrowly – or expansively – should it consider its guidance related to learning materials? To what extent should such a policy attempt to signal or highlight the potential relevance or importance of certain trends, approaches or perspectives – especially as they relate to the emergence of a variety of new technologies?
Leveraging Technology and Partnerships to Promote Equity in South Asia
Wednesday, April 18 at 9:00AM
The Next South Asia Regional Flagship on equity and development (March 2013) will feature an eBook which will combine interactive multimedia as a part of the World Bank Open Data and Open Knowledge initiatives. This signals a new era in development analysis is produced and shared.
Please RSVP to Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, April 17th to attend.
Twitter hashtag: #wbequity
Breaking Down Barriers: A New Dawn on Trade and Regional Cooperation in South Asia
Thursday, April 19 at 3:00PM
As I was packing for a trip to the 2011 ABCDE on “Broadening Opportunities for Development” in Paris, I got a call from an old friend: Would I write a blog on how I saw the “impact” of the 2006 World Development Report, which was entitled “Equity and Development”, over the last five years? Since my friend was paying my ticket to Paris, I could not really refuse, but I did tell her that I had heard Esther Duflo was also going to the ABCDE, so I had better not pretend that one could assess the real “impact” of that report on the practice of development economics…
I am glad to reminisce, though! The World Development Report (WDR) 2006, which Michael Walton and I led under François Bourguignon’s guidance, was an attempt to bring issues of distribution back into the core of the development debate. Distribution was central to the concerns of early development economists, from W. A. Lewis and Simon Kuznets in the 1950s, to Ahluwalia and Chenery’s Redistribution with Growth (1974). After an interlude - marked by the onslaught of representative agent models in macroeconomics and by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the global stage – inequality made a tentative return to mainstream economics in the early 1990s. At that time, a number of authors suggested that today’s distribution of wealth (or income) might affect tomorrow’s growth and development prospects, via a myriad pathways: investment capacity, occupational choice, political economy, etc.
As snow covers ground in Washington, D.C., debt markets swoon, and another year comes to a close, it seems like a good time to look at what actually happened to international capital flows to developing countries last year and what that might portend for flows in 2010, as this year’s numbers will be finalized in coming months.
At a time when the global economy has seen the most severe slowdown since the end of WWII, capital flows to the developing world—including private flows (debt and equity) and official capital flows (loans and grants from all sources)—are in an overall slump, well below their level in 2007 ($1.1 trillion). According to the just-published Global Development Finance: External Debt of Developing Countries, which contains detailed data on the external debt of 128 developing countries for 2009, net capital flows to these countries fell by 20 percent from $744 billion in 2008 to $598 billion in 2009.
So much has been written recently about the individual, economic and social benefits of investing in early childhood development (ECD), that it is becoming a challenge to summarize these studies. However, ECD is an area that I’m increasingly involved in with my work at The World Bank. Among others, Nobel Laureate Economist, James Heckman and his colleagues have provided very convincing evidence of the benefits of early childhood interventions, including preschool education, on later individual and social outcomes (my colleague and fellow blogger, Jishnu Das looked at Heckman's work in his last blog post "Are Non-Cognitive Gains in Education More Important than Test-Scores?"). These benefits are substantial and varied, ranging from improved education outcomes for the individual, access to better jobs, higher wages, and even lower risks of engaging in criminal activities – which, of course benefits society as a whole. Moreover, investing early is a better investment than waiting until the child is older, because the costs of achieving comparable benefits through interventions later in life – remedial education in basic education, programs to target at-risk youth, and the like – are so much more costly and also less likely to have an impact.
Co-authored by Jennifer Pye, Tertiary Education Team
Globally the disabled population continues to be the most disadvantaged and marginalized group within society with limited access to educational opportunities. According to UNESCO’s Global Education for All Monitoring Report 2010, “disability is one of the least visible but most potent factors in educational marginalization.”
Today, the U.N.'s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, provides us with an opportunity to share preliminary findings from our on-going work on equity of access and success in tertiary education for people with disabilities.
Co-authored by Roberta Bassett and Jennifer Pye, Tertiary Education Team
We are reaching out to the global tertiary education community to create a forum for discussing equity in access and success. For us, as part of the growing community of bloggers on education at the World Bank, feedback from our readers is important to help fulfill the institution’s mission of fighting poverty and supporting human development. Your views on our work, insights and knowledge contribute to our quest to further our understanding on how best to go about providing equitable access to educational opportunities for all. We hope you will take some time to read this blog entry and explore our web site on Equity of Access and Success in Tertiary Education to learn more. Your comments will feed into our report on the situation of equity in tertiary education that we will be drafting over the next few months based on the background reports and studies found on our website. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help us to drive our work forward and improve equitable access to education for all.
By Roberta Bassett, Tertiary Education Specialist, Human Development Network
The ability of a society to produce, select, adapt, commercialize, and use knowledge is critical for sustained economic growth and improved living standards. As a locus for both knowledge creation and dissemination, tertiary education institutions help countries build globally competitive economies by developing a skilled, productive and flexible labor force and by creating, applying and spreading new ideas and technologies. In middle and low-income countries, tertiary education works to build the institutional capacity that is essential to reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
For that growth to be inclusive, opportunities to access and succeed in higher education must be as equitable as possible. A global study is being undertaken on Equity of Access and Success in Tertiary Education, funded by the government of the Netherlands through the Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program (BNPP).